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Friday December 09, 2022

ECP reserves verdict in Dar’s Senate membership case

How can Ishaq Dar take oath as senator when his victory’s notification was suspended by the ECP, argues his counsel

September 26, 2022
PML-N leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar. — AFP/File
PML-N leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday reserved its verdict on a petition seeking to declare PML-N’s Ishaq Dar’s Senate seat “vacant” over his failure to take oath as a senator within 60 days of the polls.

At the outset of today’s hearing, Salman Aslam Butt, Dar’s counsel, apprised the court that his client’s victory notification as Senator was issued on March 9, 2018.

“On March 29, 2018, the ECP withdrew a notification of Ishaq Dar's election as a senator,” the lawyer added.

It is pertinent to mention here that notification was withdrawn in the light of the Supreme Court's orders as in May 2018, the apex court had suspended Dar’s senatorship on a temporary basis.

A petition, moved by PPP's Nawazish Pirzada, had requested the apex court to suspend the Lahore High Court judgment allowing Dar to contest the Senate elections.

“On January 10, 2022, Ishaq Dar was reinstated to the Senate by the ECP,” the lawyer said and asked how could his client take the oath as a senator when his victory’s notification was suspended by the election body.

“The ordinance about 60 days for taking oath does not apply on his client,” argued Dar’s counsel.

“The ordinance lapsed after completing its constitutional life,” the lawyer argued, adding that a member cannot be disqualified if he does not take the oath even for 5 years.

The provision of disqualification for not taking the oath within 2 months has been removed from the election act, he clarified.

When an ECP member asked if Ishaq Dar was ineligible before the amendment, how did he become eligible now?

“The ECP cannot interpret the law,” replied the lawyer. He maintained that the ordinance issued by the PTI government was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the ECP reserved its judgment and adjourned the hearing.

Dar was successfully elected to the Senate from Punjab but had yet to be administered the oath. The former finance minister has been out of the country since October 2017 on account of his medical treatment.

He has since been declared a proclaimed offender in a corruption case filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau.

However, an accountability court in the federal capital on September 23 suspended the arrest warrants of Ishaq Dar till October 7 in a case pertaining to him being a proclaimed offender.

Ishaq Dar will return to Pakistan today

Ishaq Dar will return to Pakistan along with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in his plane today – after five years of self-imposed exile in London – to “facilitate” the government in its efforts to resurrect the cash-strapped economy by taking over the key portfolio of the finance ministry.

The top PML-N huddle, headed by party supremo Nawaz Sharif, decided on Sunday that Dar will fly out with PM Shahbaz Sharif on Monday morning from Luton Airport.

Dar is set to take oath as Pakistan’s next finance minister, replacing Miftah Ismail.